I’m not good at packing. As simple a task as it sounds, packing is just not something that comes naturally to me. This lack of ability has haunted me for my entire life, as I have always been the kid (and counselor) to show up at camp with several duffel bags of belongings and have always had to cross my fingers at the airport that my bag weighs less than the requisite 50 pounds.

As you can possibly imagine, this made packing for college a much larger challenge than it probably should have been. I put things in piles, edited and reorganized said piles, and somehow ended up just adding more things to my collection of Baltimore-bound belongings.  Even after the difficult decision to leave both the ironing board AND broom at home, I still somehow ended up bringing two cars worth of things to school with me last fall.

Shockingly, I didn’t end up needing everything I brought.

Now that the year is over, and I’m back at home working tirelessly to unpack my many bags and boxes (or moving three things every day from a box to my bedroom floor), I see a few places where I went very, very wrong last August.

  1. I don’t care how often you plan to go to the gym or go for a run or just dress like a scrub, you do not need as many T-shirts as you think you will. Let me reiterate: DO NOT BRING YOUR ENTIRE COLLECTION OF TSHIRTS WITH YOUR HIGH SCHOOL’S MASCOT OR YOUR COLLECTION OF SUMMER CAMP TIE DYE THAT DATES BACK TO 2007. Really. I brought a pretty sizeable collection of t-shirts to school with me, and somehow ended up accumulating a grand total of 21 more at college. By the end of the year, I couldn’t even close the drawer under my bed devoted only to T-shirts. Many events around campus give out free shirts, and you’re going to feel a lot cooler sporting one of them than your JV soccer shirt from sophomore year.


    A sampling of t-shirts I acquired over the year

  2. My shoe collection was another place I probably could have cut back just a bit. As it turns out, I didn’t end up needing all three pairs of Toms, both pairs of running shoes, and all five pairs of sandals. This, of course, was in addition to rain boots, combat boots, Birkenstocks, moccasins, Oxfords, two pairs of heels, five pairs of ballet flats, and a few other footwear options. Shoes take up a lot of space, and if you’re anything like me, you’ll end up wearing the same pair of boots every day from the months of November through March to conceal the bright purple fuzzy socks you need to keep your feet warm on your walk to class.


    Opening Pandora’s box of shoes.

  3. Finally, I probably could have ditched the DVDs and abandoned the stack of ~pleasure

    The collection of glorified paperweights that sat on my desk all year

    reading~ books I took to school. I know you’re thinking that because you’re going to college you’re going to want to “read for fun” and “be an intellectual” but after reading through several chapters of chemistry or British literature or Russian history every week, reading may seem like the least appealing task on the face of the planet. Not surprisingly, I didn’t have time to watch my collection or movies or the five seasons of Gilmore Girls I toted to school, even after deciding to leave two seasons at home. This is perhaps even less surprising, when you take into consideration that my computer doesn’t even have a disc drive. Most shows and movies are available online, and you’re probably going to be a lot busier than you imagine anyway.

While you’re never going to be able to compress everything to one box or carry-on bag, seeing as you are packing to live somewhere for a whole year, you really don’t need to bring your entire life. With that being said, do bring a few ridiculous things and things that remind you at home. After all, I ended up using my fanny pack more than I used my AP Calculus notebook from senior year.

Happy packing!